LUANDA (AFP) - Ghana avoided the ignominy of becoming the first World Cup qualifiers not to make it past the Africa Cup of Nations first round thanks to a little help from a legend's son.
Missing Michael Essien and a score of first choice players the four-time champions still managed to book their place in the quarter-finals with a 1-0 win over 10-man Burkina Faso here on Tuesday.
The only goal came from French-based Andre Ayew, son of one of Africa's most decorated players, Abedi 'Pele' Ayew, three-time Africa Footballer of the Year and a member of Marseille's 1993 Champions League winning side.
Ghana's reward was a last eight date with hosts Angola at Luanda's 11 November stadium on Sunday.
Algeria, the Group A runners-up, face Group B winners Ivory Coast, with Burkina Faso down and out.
The main news off the pitch on day 10 of the competition came from Cabinda where Mali despatched a letter of protest at Monday's goalless draw between Angola and Algeria.
The shared point put those two sides through from Group A at the expense of Mali, who cried foul.
That attitude incensed the Mali team who wrote to organisers the Confederation of African Football (CAF) to make an official complaint.
"We are lodging a vehement protest against the behaviour of the Algeria and Angola teams," the Mali Football Federation president Boubacar Thiam wrote in the letter, a copy of which has been seen by AFP.
"In fact the second half of the game was a total non-match, the two sides systematically refusing to play in order to maintain the score at 0-0 which was sufficient for qualification."
He continued: "This anti-sporting behaviour is contrary to the ethics and the fair-play policy put forward by FIFA and CAF must condemn it with the utmost vigour.
"It does a disservice to African football and to the game in general. We hope that CAF will take the necessary disciplinary measures."
Thiam cited as a precedent for his protest a similar incident at the Africa Cup of Nations Youth Championships in 2001 match against Cameroon and Egypt who received no points as punishment after a scoreless draw.
There was encouraging news meanwhile from South Africa concerning the state of health of Kodjovi Obilale, the goalkeeper injured in the deadly gun attack on the Togo team bus on January 8.
His condition is stable and he is responding well to treatment," said Erin Smylie, spokeswoman for Milpark Hospital, a private facility where the 25-year-old is being treated.
Obilale was shot in the back and abdomen on January 8 when separatist guerillas in the Angolan enclave of Cabinda opened fire on Togo's convoy as they entered the country to compete in the tournament.
The team's assistant coach and its squad media officer were killed in the shooting, which prompted Togo to withdraw from the competition.
Wednesday's action comes from Benguela where World Cup qualifiers Nigeria go into their crucial game with Mozambique distracted by reports that a presidential directive has ordered the sacking of underfire coach Shuaibu Amodu.
"Amodu is still in charge of the team and he took the team's training in Lubango yesterday (Monday). He will lead the team against Mozambique on Wednesday," Nigeria Football Federation official Taiwo Ogunjobi told AFP.
Nigeria need a draw to qualify, while champions Egypt can assure top spot in the group if they come away from their meeting with Benin with a point.
|4||M. Tall||16' 66'|
|Coach: Paulo Duarte|
for C. Kaboré 60'
for H. Bamogo 72'
for P. Koulibaly 83'
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